Previously I had posted three long blog entries [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3] about the Ptolemy IV coin allegedly found in Queensland by Andy Henderson in 1910. My conclusion based on the published photos was that the coin published by Michael Terry was a modern forgery, and that Rex Gilroy’s published picture was of a completely different coin. As there still remained many unanswered questions, I recently examined Michael Terry’s papers in the National Library of Australia, hoping to get more detail on the story. Here is what I found.
This posting is about the discovery of a Ptolemaic Egyptian coin that was reputed to have been made in 1910 by a farmer in coastal Queensland. The story of its discovery and subsequent identification as evidence of secret visitors is set out in Part 1. In Part 2 the coin evidence is described and analysed. This analysis identified that there are, in fact, two different coins, and that there is a high likelihood that one is a modern forgery. The implications of this are now considered as part of an overall assessment of the validity of the find. Read the rest of this entry »
The first part of this post discussed the discovery of a Ptolemy IV bronze coin, dating from 221-204 BC, by a farmer in north Queensland in 1910. In this part we discuss the coin itself and identify some problems with the evidence that need to be resolved before it is used to support any claims for Egyptian contact with Australia.
The first significant problem is that Henderson found only one coin, but Terry and later Gilroy illustrated two different specimens that are each supposed to be the actual coin. The photo included in Terry’s 1966 and later articles is clearly different to the one shown by Gilroy [1995: 256].
Both coins shown in Figure 1 [Terry] and Figure 2 [Gilroy] – are bronze coins of Ptolemy IV, known as ‘Philopater’ to distinguish him from the other 15 Ptolemies who eventually ruled Hellenistic Egypt prior to its incorporation into the Roman Empire. Ptolemy IV reigned from 221 to 204 BC. The coin depicts him on the obverse in the guise of Zeus Ammon, signified by ram horns, and the obverse has an eagle with spread wings grasping thunderbolts. Along the obverse can be read the inscription ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ [‘Ptolemy King’ in Greek]. Between the eagle’s legs there is a small star. This is a control mark that indicated it was minted following an undated monetary reform during Ptolemy IV’s reign. Read the rest of this entry »
One commonly cited piece of evidence in support of secret visitors is the discovery of a coin of Ptolemy IV of Egypt by a farmer in northern Queensland in 1910. Unlike many comparable claims we know the date, the discoverer, the location and circumstances and clear images of the coin have been published. These add considerable circumstantial context and a strong sense of authenticity to the claim. Importantly the discovery predates the Great War, when a large number of Australians served in the Middle East and may have brought souvenirs such as Egyptian coins and scarabs back to Australia, adding to its legitimacy. The claim was first published in 1965 and since then has been repeated frequently in print and through replication on the internet. In this post I will look at the claim and how reliable it is as evidence for secret visitors. Read the rest of this entry »
In the course of my research I have come across some useful information on the trade in fake Egyptian antiquities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These were mainly aimed at the tourist market rather than the art collector or connoisseur, generally small items like scarabs and coins rather than sculpture or mummies. Given the abundance of Egyptian finds that have been claimed as evidence for secret visitors to Australia I thought it may be worth getting some of this better documented. Read the rest of this entry »